10 Big Fat PET Weddings (Photos)

Lucky Black Cat Survives 20-Story Plunge

NEW YORK -- A New York cat is counting his lives after taking a 20-story plunge on the Fourth of July.

The owners of Glouchester -- known as G to his owners -- were out of town for a long weekend. They cracked a window as they left, not thinking their cat would even notice.

"In all the years we've been here, he's never even looked at the window, let alone peeked his head out or anything," said Barry Myers, Glouchester's owner.

But the Myers got a call on the Fourth saying their cat had taken quite a tumble.

"I assume he saw something and leaned out and tried to take a swing at it," said Myers.

The black cat turned out to be pretty lucky, surviving the concrete landing. Vets said that the towering apartment window may have actually helped G survive.

"According to the vet, when you're 10 floors or above, you actually have an increased chance of surviving it because you have a chance to kind of right yourself and get ready to land," said Myers.

He said a woman walking her dog found G, got him some water and called for help. Myers said G was pretty shaken up and a little bruised, but nothing was broken.

He said Glouchester is back to being a cat saying, "He's getting around pretty good right now, and he's eating. He seems relatively happy, all things considered, and he curled up on the couch with me and watched TV."

How Cute!
10 Percent of Pets are on Social Networks
Jeffrey Van Camp - digitaltrends.com

1 in 10 pets have social networking profiles, according to a new U.K. study. Are pets more popular than celebrities?

Fair warning: this dog is insanely cute.

A new study suggests that more than 1 in 10 U.K. pets have a profile on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Commissioned by PetPlan, a pet insurance company, the study suggests that animals may be more popular than celebrities and just about anything else on social networking sites. And if a pet doesn’t have a social networking profile yet, its pictures are probably already on one. More than half of U.K. pet owners share photos of their pets online, reports The Telegraph.

“…animals are more popular than celebrities on Facebook and other social networking sites,” said Neil Brettell, director of insurer PetPlan.

We were unable to find a detailed copy of the study to see what other conclusions it draws and report its sample size and methods, so we cannot verify this information, but we can definitely say that pets sure are extremely popular here in the U.S. The picture you see above is Boo, a dog that has 1.4 million friends (Likes) on Facebook. He even has a book coming out called “Boo: The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog.” It seems Facebook can bring out the business minds of pet owners as well.

The Telegraph describes the trend of giving pets their own social profiles as social “petworking.” Even Google+, a social networking site that is still in beta, already has a few dog profiles like Beagle D. Dog, a dog that wears a stylin’ pair of headphones. Even our own Andrew Couts has been known to post a few things online about his dog. Have you made a profile for your pet?

Fat Cat Eddie gets Snatched Up by Hawk,
but Dropped in Neighbor's Garden
Due to His Weight
Joanna Molloy - nydailynews.com

Eddie, the fat white cat, was carried by a hawk for 50 feet, before the hawk could carry no more.

It was dawn on the upper West Side the other day when a young woman heard a screech usually heard in the countryside: the raspy kreeing of a red-tailed hawk capturing its prey.

It got louder and more horrible as it suddenly mixed with the mews of a terrified cat. Her beloved cat, Eddie.

She ran out to her fifth-floor terrace where Eddie had been stretched out on a bench and saw nothing but "fur, broken nails, and feathers."

The woman, a beer microbrewer who doesn't want her name in the paper, looked everywhere, including nearby Riverside Park, where, "all the bird/park people said he was surely dead."

She was heartbroken. Eddie was more than a pet. He had been a companion, a friend, in the sometimes lonely four years since she had moved to Manhattan and adopted him at the ASPCA.

"I walked for hours all over the neighborhood and up Riverside Drive, sobbing, looking for his body," she said.

"I went to all the hawks' nests. I put up signs with Eddie's photo."

I don't know about you, but I shudder to think that hawks, who have increasingly set up house here, are preying on pets.

"The diet of a red-tailed hawk is made up primarily of small mammals such as squirrels, chipmunks, rodents and rabbits," said Sarah Aucoin of the Parks Department's Urban Park Rangers.

"There was an instance of a hawk attacking a Chihuahua in Bryant Park in 2003. It is entirely possible that a red-tailed hawk could prey upon a small cat."

That, of course, is where this story is heading: You see, Eddie's no featherweight.

No offense, but when I saw him last month, he was huge, an all-white 15-pounder with light-green eyes. Eddie's one fat cat.

Maybe the hawk thought Eddie was a plump white rabbit stretched out on the deck like a country breakfast. No way the 4-pound raptor could carry him over the brownstone rooftops to his nest in the park.

The answer is, he couldn't. Not very far, anyway. He made it about 50 feet.

"He dropped him in the garden of a building a few doors down," Eddie's amazed owner said.

"The tenant was awakened by a huge thud in his garden. He ran out and found his garden umbrella toppled over, and a cat in the corner, meowing."

Fat Eddie had been dropped at least five stories.

"I can only imagine Eddie bounced off the umbrella like in the cartoons," the owner said.

When the flabbergasted neighbor with cats falling from the sky went out that afternoon he spotted the woman's flyers and called.

"I have your cat!" he exulted. She ran down, fetched Eddie and took him to a vet.

"He checked out fine, other than some minor cuts, scrapes and bruises," the woman said. "The vet says he's an amazing cat. And he is."

Yeah, but he's lost at least a couple of those nine lives.

"The moral of the story is essentially: Your flaws can be an asset," she surmised. "In Eddie's case, his chubbiness saved him."

Doody Calls:
The Importance Of Scooping Your Dog's Poo
Lynne Peeples - huffingtonpost.com

The girl and her dog, they were fine (wow)
Until they left a doody -- that's a crime (bow wow)

Performer Martin Luther sings to the familiar tune of Blackstreet's "No Diggity" as he swoops in to "bag it up" -- the artist's hand shielded by a plastic doggie bag, of course.

"Dog Doogity", the new music video created by the Seattle-based Puget Sound Starts Here is a fresh approach to persuade people to pick up after their pets. Despite campaigns that have passed out pamphlets and placed boxes of plastic bags in public parks, area residents still find themselves dodging doodies on sidewalks, lawns and trails.

"The thing about dog waste is that it's the only bacteria source that people willingly leave on the ground," Janet Geer, spokesperson for a partnership of regional governments dedicated to improving local water quality, told The Huffington Post. "For some reason it doesn't sink in that it is raw sewage."

While Geer acknowledged the power of poop "to bring out the 6-year-old in a lot of people," she also emphasized the seriousness of the issue.

It's not just a stinky situation -- skipping scooping poses a public health hazard.

For one, pet feces carry bacteria, viruses and parasites into waterways that can cause unpleasant infections such as giardia and E. coli. More indirectly, the excrement also releases nutrients into the water that can feed algae, kill marine life, contaminate beaches and send unlucky swimmers home with bouts of diarrhea or hives.

As Luther states simply in the song: "Hey yo, you don't want to swim in poo."

The Puget Sound area is home to over a million dogs, which the campaign estimates generate as much waste as about 300,000 people. And just like their owners, the dogs' are contributing to one of the region's major concerns: the pollution of the Puget Sound.

What's more, the Associated Press reported Monday, "too much pollution from animal and human waste has been washing into Samish Bay in north Puget Sound, prohibiting shellfish harvests 38 days already this year."

The problem isn't limited to the Pacific Northwest, or even the people who eat the Pacific Northwest's prized seafood. The U.S. pet dog population reached a record 78.2 million in 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported. The high number of pets is particularly noticeable in high density cities.

Along Stratford Avenue in the Bronx borough of New York City, for example, residents have to be careful where they walk.

"There's always dog poop everywhere," Bronx resident Migdalia Cordero told News Channel 12 last week. The current $250 fine for failure to pick up waste is having little impact, as enforcement requires a perpetrator to be caught in the act.

Jefferson County, Colo., recently unleashed a team of volunteers to approach and remind dog owners that "there is no poop fairy," after an imposed $30 fine alone wasn't doing the trick, according to the Denver Post.

"Unlike wild-animal feces, dog poop does not biodegrade quickly," the Post reported last week.

Meanwhile, one landlord in New Hampshire is going a step further in her effort to avoid stepping in doo-doo: mandatory DNA testing of all dogs that live in her apartment complex. If abandoned waste is found, she enlists a program called PooPrints to match samples with the dog database, CNN reported.

Leaving a pet's droppings on the sidewalk or in a park is not a crime in every municipality, but the environmental risk likely sits outside the law anyway -- hiding in people's backyards or other private property.

When it rains in Seattle, feces left in any of these places can wash into storm drains and ditches, which then flow untreated to the nearest lake, stream or wetland and ultimately wind up in the Puget Sound.

"Pet waste is one of the primary sources of bacterial contamination in our local streams," Geer said. "It's in almost all the water samples we've tested."

Of course, once you do scoop the poop, there remains the question of what to do with it.

Composting or flushing the waste down the toilet in biodegradable bags are options that have garnered recent attention. However, according to Geer, these strategies are not yet ready for wide adoption; compost generally doesn't get hot enough to kill pathogens and flushable bags don't necessarily break down and could result in clogged pipes.

Simply picking it up and putting it in the trash is the best way to go, she said.

It's Dog vs. Machine
at Congressional Hearing on Airport Security
By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN,com

Spencer, a bomb-sniffing dog, checks a suitcase at the airport.

Washington (CNN) -- What is the best way to search travelers for explosives: Full-body Imaging machines, which can see through your clothes? Or Rin Tin Tin, who can't, but might lick your hand?

That, unexpectedly, became the most contentious issue at a fiery congressional hearing Wednesday on airport security.

In a sometimes blistering, sometimes comical debate, Republican lawmakers, a canine officer and a Transportation Security Administration official argued over the relative merits of dog vs. machine in assuring the national security.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, led the dog caucus, arguing that canines are cheaper and less invasive than body scanners. Dogs are exceptional at sensing explosives, do not require software upgrades, don't depreciate with use and might even be able to detect bombs implanted under a person's skin.

"The single best way to find a bomb-making device or bomb-making materials is the canine," Chaffetz said.

And dogs are widely accepted by the public, he said.

"Who doesn't like dogs?" chimed in Inspector William Parker, head of Amtrak's K-9 unit.

Canines are missing one thing that body scanners have, Chaffetz said. Lobbyists.

"That's what the problem is," Chaffetz said. "If you look at those lobbyists who pushed through those machines, they should be ashamed of themselves, because there is a better way to do this and it's with the canines."

Transportation Security Administration Assistant Administrator John Sammon noted the TSA has fielded both body scanners and canines. But dogs have limitations, he said. They require frequent breaks, he said, while the imaging machines can be worked tirelessly.

And he said, a dog can cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars."

"How do you come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars. I mean Alpo only costs so much," Chaffetz said. "I challenge you to verify that number."

Sammon said the cost of trainers and handlers is substantial.

"I assume that your whole-body imaging machines require an operator too," said dog fancier Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas. The machine at his local airport requires three, he said. "One to stop you going through, one to listen on the (walkie talkie), and the one in back (to review the image)."

Dogs and machines are both "expensive systems," Sammon allowed. "They each have their role."

But Chaffetz maintained dogs are more efficient and proposed a contest.

"Let's do this," Chaffetz challenged Sammon. "You take a thousand people and put them in a room, I'll give you 10 whole-body imaging machines. You give me 5,000 in another room. You give me one of his dogs and we will find that bomb before you find your bomb," he said.

"Let's see who can find more bombs, and let's see who is less expensive," Chaffetz said.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, asked Parker whether canines can detect explosive implants -- devices surgically implanted on a human.

"Scientifically, right now there's no data that says a dog can or cannot," Parker said. But he noted that dogs can detect cancer and tumors. "Dogs can detect anything that they're taught. I think if the dog is taught to do that, he'll be a very good asset for that."

TSA officials have told Congress that body scanners can not detect implanted devices, although they may detect modifications to body contours.

Sammon promised to look into the cost of dogs and report back to Congress.

Labs Top Dog Bite List

Pit bulls have gotten a bad rap in recent years.

They make the news when overly aggressive dogs bite people. But they were not the only dogs biting in the first six months of 2011. Locally, one breed tallied more bites.

Nebraska Humane Society statistics released this week showed 23 bites involving pit bulls in Omaha. They recorded 35 bites by Labradors, and German Shepherds were just behind pit bulls, with 19 reported bites.

But pit bulls and similar breeds, under a city ordinance, have to wear muzzles on walks unless they're younger than six months. The dogs must be collared, leashed and harnessed. Owners also have to have $100,000 in liability insurance.

Mary Larson of Omaha, like many, once was afraid of pit bull breeds.

“I used to cross the street when someone was walking a pit bull,” Mary said.

Then she met Dinah.

Dinah, an older Staffordshire terrier — a breed closely related to pit bulls — was a stray that came into the shelter in early 2010. She was estimated at about six years old, her disposition inherently calm and sweet.

But no one at the shelter would give her a chance. Larson, a shelter volunteer, said no one considered adopting her.

“She was getting depressed,” Mary said. “She wasn't eating.”

Mary's husband, Doug, said his wife came home in tears because no one wanted Dinah. After three months at the shelter, Doug, skeptical at first, caved, and they brought her home to join their family of two dogs and at least three cats.

Now they consider themselves converts.

“We foster kittens,” Mary said. “When we brought Dinah home, she started licking them. She's very maternal.”

Doug said sometimes the kittens would try to nurse on Dinah, something that didn't bother her.

When the Larsons adopted Dinah, she came with a muzzle. There was one way to avoid using it — with the Humane Society-administered Canine Good Citizen test.

During their first week together, the Larsons trained Dinah. She had no problems passing the test at the end of the week. They donated their muzzle back to the shelter, and now Dinah wears the required “Breed Ambassadors” vest when out in public, signifying that she's safe.

The Canine Good Citizen test isn't easy for every dog, said Pam Wiese of the Humane Society.

Part of the test requires that dogs not jump up to greet people. They have to react appropriately when left alone with strangers or strange dogs. They have to be able to navigate a crowd. They have to react without aggression when sudden, loud noises are made. Those that pass become “Breed Ambassadors.”

“But, honestly, pit bulls might have a better chance at passing the test than other breeds,” Wiese said.

Wiese said one of the hardest parts of the test for dogs is not jumping to greet people. Higher-energy breeds like golden retrievers and Labradors often are the ones that can't resist doing that, she said.

Especially young dogs.

The test is a step above a basic obedience class. Many dogs fail the first time, and test-prep classes are offered at the Humane Society and elsewhere. Even those that pass have to retest every year.

Raised by the right owners, Mary said, all pit bulls can be socialized and be wonderful pets.

Three weeks ago, Dinah went to her first birthday party for another pit bull pal. There were 15 dogs, all crowded in the same room. Most were pit bulls, and not all were ambassadors.

Mary said it's important not to over-generalize an entire breed.

“At different points in history, people have been afraid of different dogs — chows, German shepherds, rottweilers, dobermans,” Mary said. “But in the right hands, these dogs are just as sweet as any other dog.”

6 Tips to Save on Pet Medical Expenses
By MoneyTalksNews - By Brandon Ballenger

People love their pets like family – dogs are man’s best friend, and well, pretty much anything cute and furry is a woman’s BFF. So it’s not surprising to hear a survey report that 91% of pet owners in the U.S. and Europe would give up their vacations to pay for a pet’s surgery.

That’s from Grey Healthcare Group. But this, from The New York Times, is surprising: Only about 3% of Americans have pet insurance. As we reported just last week, that can mean more than $1,500 in out-of-pocket expenses on things like torn ligaments and medical care resulting from eating what they shouldn’t.

Pet care is a growing industry – there are the traditional offerings, like vet visits and grooming. And then there are things like pet bakeries and pet resorts. It’s getting a little crazy, and doggone expensive. But pet health is more important than pet luxury.

Dr. Anvita Bawa also says insurance is a good idea for high-maintenance animals. “Especially bulldogs, rottweilers, and Dobermans,” says Bawa. Policies can be as cheap as $15 a month, although there are still deductibles and co-pays.

But as Stacy mentions, many pet policies won’t cover preventative care, older animals, or breed-specific genetic conditions – read the fine print and find out if your critters will get coverage worth the price. Here are some other ways to save, insured or not:

1.Check out the local animal shelter. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has local listings for animal shelters. These places may offer discounted services and cheaper (sometimes even free) vaccinations. Plus, they work for animals, not for profit – so they may be a good source for recommendations and referrals as well.

2.Comparison shop. Just like doctors who treat two-legged patients, vets don’t all charge the same rates. Visit HealthyPet.com for local listings of vets accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. Then call them up and get some quotes.

3.Find cheaper prescriptions. Compare the prices your vet charges with online and local stores, including warehouse stores. Ask your friends and animal shelter workers what they use. There are plenty of places to find pet medications online: Just do a search for “Pet Medications.”

4.Pet sitters. Sometimes you need someone to watch your animals while you’re out of town. Last year, we wrote about sitter scam artists who robbed houses: The same story explains how to find a trustworthy pet sitter. If your family and friends can’t do it, try PetSitters.org or Pet Sitters International, where you should be able to find a good local sitter for $15-$35 a day.

5.Take good care of your pets. This sounds straightforward, but it’s easy to miss if you have a busy lifestyle. Make sure your pets are getting a proper diet – some animals have very specific needs. (This doesn’t mean generic pet food is bad, as long as it has the right ingredients.) Make sure they get enough exercise, and that you follow all your vet’s recommendations. Don’t skimp on preventative care like vaccines. Spend enough time and money to save yourself heartache and debt later.

6.Prioritize your pet budget. Many people treat their pets like kids, and it’s natural to want to spoil them. If you have the money, that’s OK. But remember that health is more important than luxury, and animals don’t need a lot of expensive toys or high-priced food. Unlike kids, they have no sense of how much money you spent. Your time and affection are worth more than what’s in your wallet.

7 Tips for First-Time Pet Owners

Here are a few tricks to help to prepare your pad for pets:

1.Curtain call. Be sure your windows are properly draped with materials that deter cats from using them as a scratching post, repel pet fur and dander and aren’t hazardous. Consider a window treatment designer to get the right look that’s also pet safe.

2.Plant perils. A number of plants found in your landscaping may be pleasing to the eye, but can be harmful to your pet. Be sure to ask your veterinarian what could be poisonous and develop a plan to replace it.

3.Sit, stay. Obedience training is a must for new dogs with no manners and old dogs with bad habits. Your pooch can be the Emily Post of the canine world — with a little guidance from an expert animal trainer.

4.Fenced in. No matter how much outdoor space you have, protecting your pets by fencing your yard is a smart move. If you don’t want to hinder your view, think about installing an invisible fence — no one will ever know it’s there.

5.Chemical ills. Household cleaning supplies and chemicals need to be out of reach, both in the home and the garage. Build shelves for storage or keep the materials behind closed cabinet doors because one taste could spell disaster for man’s best friend.

6.No room to run? Busy schedules and cramped quarters can leave any pup feeling antsy. A highly rated dog walker can help to ensure Jack gets to stretch his legs on a regular basis.

7.Stain pain. No one is immune to accidents and a stain’s a stain regardless whether it comes from a furry four-legged friend or a clumsy two-legged one. A professional carpet cleaner can eliminate any unsightly soiled spots that might occur.

Blood Suckers: How to Protect Your Pet
By Eric Kane, DVM - patch.com

Your pet can be affected by several blood sucking organisms, and the blood sucking may not even be the worst part.

There are many organisms in the environment that can affect our pets, often in more ways than one. Among them are external and internal parasites. These can be found in many areas, and the severity of disease they cause varies from pet to pet and organism to organism. While keeping your pets completely safe from these problems is not really possible, there are ways to try to help prevent, reduce severity, and treat your pet if they do become affected.

Some of the most common problems are caused by those organisms we will call 'blood suckers.' The name is quite telling, as all of these following organisms do indeed suck blood, which can sometimes lead to serious blood loss. However, some also carry and transmit other organisms, which then lead to other, sometimes even more serious problems. In the next few articles, we will focus on these little blood suckers, including fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and hookworms.


The most common external parasite we deal with, these wingless insects hang out and run around on your pet, sucking their blood for their nutrition. While the blood loss is usually not serious, in severe cases, your pet could lose enough blood to require a transfusion to survive. If your pet goes outside, comes into contact with other pet, or goes into an environment where fleas have been, they can become the next meal!

Adult fleas suck your pets' blood, and females lay eggs that fall into the surrounding environment. In optimal flea conditions, these eggs hatch and larvae eventually pupate and develop into adults. The adult emerges, finds your pet and hops on. Adult fleas on other pets can jump onto your pet, too. In addition to the varying amounts of blood loss, these adults fleas can cause, they also:

•Can carry and transmit TAPEWORMS - internal intestinal worms that cause diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, inappetence (not usually serious; treatable with a pill or injection, repeated in 2-3 weeks)

•Can carry and transmit the organism responsible for FLEA INFECTIOUS

ANEMIA - a microscopic parasite in cats that destroys red blood cells, leading to lethargy, weakness, yellow tissue (icterus) and collapse. (may require transfusion to survive–otherwise can be successfully treated with antibiotics)

•Can cause FLEA DERMATITIS (non-allergy) from the flea bites themselves, leading to mild itching and chewing (tail base, back end, neck, belly), and little bumps/crusts (tail base and neck usually). This is usually treatable by eliminating the fleas, shampoos and antihistamines.

•Can cause FLEA 'ALLERGY' DERMATITIS in those pets allergic to the flea's saliva–this can either be a mild or sometimes very severe skin inflammation with secondary bacterial and yeast infections, leading to signs of mild to intense itching and chewing (tail base, back end, neck, belly), hair loss, raw areas called hot spots, and a variety of strange skin and mouth changes in cats (lip ulcers, chin swelling, mouth granulomas, red bumps and plaques on the skin) *can be treatable by a variety of methods (a whole other article); however, can also be a very frustrating, ongoing problem that can be difficult to cure

•Can carry and transmit other less common organisms that we do not commonly see, like the organism responsible for plaque.


The best advice is preventing the fleas from ever affecting your pet. This is a tall order, as there is no way to 100 percent prevent fleas (in this area); however, there are things to consider when trying to reduce the risk to your pet:

•remember where your pet gets the fleas, and try to reduce exposure (outside, contact with other pets, previous flea areas)

•monthly 'spot on' liquids/oral pill products to kill fleas and/or prevent flea reproduction–recommend talking to your veterinarian about the best product for your pet

•bathing (regular bath and/or 'flea bath') to physically remove fleas and apply insecticide to kill fleas

CAUTION: I recommend not using over-the-counter flea control for your pet.

We see more 'reactions' in pets (allergic, local skin) when using these often less effective, non-FDA controlled products. While they may be less expensive, they may also be more dangerous and less effective. Be advised:

•keep temperature cool and humidity low (fleas love 70-90 degrees F and higher, and love humidity)

•vacuum, vacuum, vacuum (fleas lay eggs that are likely in your environment–before they hatch and get on your pet, get rid of them!)

•clean couches, upholstery, rugs, carpets

•use environmental foggers containing insect growth regulators to kill eggs and larvae

Endangered Snow Leopard,
World's 'Most Elusive' Cat,
Thriving in Afghanistan

Researchers have discovered a "healthy population" of elusive snow leopards in Afghanistan, thanks to camera traps set up at 16 different locations along the Wakhan Corridor, a high-altitude panhandle in northeastern Afghanistan.

Female snow leopard, Milla sits in her new enclosure at the Servion Zoo in Servion near Lausanne.

Snow leopards are among the most elusive and endangered animals in the world. There are believed to be only 4,000 to 7,000 snow leopards alive today: The sleek and beautiful cats are victims of human intervention - destroyed by poachers, killed by shepherds protecting their flocks, and targeted by illegal pet traders.

The snow leopard's habitat is in the mountains of central Asia. There is a belief in China that the cats' penises and bones can enhance sexual performance, which has contributed to their illegal capture.

The snow leopard population is believed to have declined by as much as 20 percent over the last 16 years.

"This is a wonderful discovery," Peter Zahler of the World Conservation Society said in a statement. "It shows that there is real hope for snow leopards in Afghanistan. Now our goal is to ensure that these magnificent animals have a secure future as part of Afghanistan's natural heritage."

The area where the snow leopards were found is one of the few that are untouched by civil unrest and military conflict in Afqhanistan.

The 2006 BBC miniseries Planet Earth broadcast the first ever close-up footage of a snow leopard.

The mesmerizing footage - which tracks a snow leopard as she hunts a goat - took three years to capture, and was dubbed "the holy grail of wildlife photography" by the Telegraph.

Housing Boom, if You’re a Bird
By JEFFERY DelVISCIO - nytimes.com

Buildings constructed to lure the edible-nest swiftlet have been popping up in Indonesia. The nests are used in soup. Jeffery DelViscio/The New York Times

SUKADANA, Indonesia — Along the spine-jarring road that runs through this city on the South China Sea, in between the sparse, waterlogged shacks of corrugated aluminum and wood, colorful buildings have begun to sprout.

The nests, on sale in Jakarta, are highly prized, and go for almost $1,000 a pound.

They tower over their low-slung surroundings with dollhouse facades, colored in baby blues, sunshine yellows and ruby reds.

Sukadana, a small coastal city in western Borneo, is in the midst of a building boom. But the new houses are not for people. They are giant birdhouses playing an all-day siren call through booming speakers to a small bird whose edible nests — at almost $1,000 a pound — produce a broth that is highly prized, and highly priced, in China.

“They actually look nicer than a lot of the real houses,” said Andrew Teixeira de Sousa, field director for the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program, which is active in the nearby Gunung Palung National Park. “But that’s just because there’s a lot more money going into those buildings.”

The bird — called, appropriately enough, the edible-nest swiftlet — makes its nest by regurgitating long strands of sticky saliva onto the wall of a cave or house, as the case may be. These strands harden into a woven cup, weighing on average about a third of an ounce, that provides a cradle for the birds’ young and hangs from the wall.

Many Chinese believe that these hardened cups, when married with broth, bestow special health benefits. Some Web sites claim the nests can help fight disease, aid blood flow, strengthen the body, moisturize the skin and even help mothers recover their youthful figures more rapidly after childbirth. One company advises women to feed their babies nest fragments dissolved in milk to “give the infant a flexible mind.”

Real or not, the supposed health benefits of the nests have allowed sellers to charge a premium price. Iskandar, a village official in Riam Berasap Jaya who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said a good quality nest that had the classical cup shape and was free of dirt and feathers could fetch $11 to $23.

Mr. Iskandar, a former illegal logger, shares a property line with a swiftlet house; he has many friends involved in the trade and is saving up for one of his own. Since most of the forests in the area have been bought up by palm plantations, he says, the logging business is not what it once was.

The edible bird’s nest has been in Indonesia for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the advent of the CD player that the boom really took off, said Lim Chan Koon, of the University of Malaysia, the co-author of “The Swiftlets of Borneo.”

Before then, people would venture into caves to gather the nests. “Some wise guy thought of using playback of the swiftlets’ vocalization to lure them into purposely built structures imitating the cavelike environment,” he said.

Once enticed inside, the swiftlets encounter an environment designed to keep them regurgitating comfortably. Small openings in the rear of the building allow them access but keep predators out. Holes allow air to circulate but keep crosswinds to a whisper.

There are large bird feeders, and open-face water tanks provide bathing and drinking water. Misters keep the temperatures inside cool despite the blistering daytime heat.

Getting started in swiftlet farming requires what is, for this part of the world, a significant amount of money. Mr. Iskandar said a medium-size three-story swiftlet house can cost about $16,000 — a prohibitive sum for many.

Still, the houses keep going up. Almost every kink in the winding roads here reveals another. On some of the straighter stretches, the houses sit in clusters of threes and fours.

In the early morning and evening when the birds return from foraging, the jostling around the entrances seems like an avian freeway exchange — a black roiling mass of thousands of birds, each entering and exiting faster than the human eye can track. And between the birds and the electronic calls, the chirping never stops.

Economists estimate the total value of the nesting trade ranges anywhere from tens of millions of dollars to anyone’s guess. “The bird’s nest industry is in the informal sector of Indonesia’s economy that is difficult to estimate,” said Fauzi Ichsan, a senior economist with Standard Chartered Bank.

But the unregulated industry is also raising concerns that Indonesian swiftlet farmers could be producing more than just nests. Indonesia is acutely sensitive to bird-related disease scares. Since 2003, H5N1, better known as the avian flu, has caused 146 deaths and fueled global fears of a pandemic, and the toll in Indonesia is the highest in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

Some are concerned that the increasingly dense networks of swiftlet houses could create disease flight paths for the avian flu, threatening both the local bird populations and potentially humans, as well. Almost as worrisome are the large water tanks inside each house that provide prime breeding sites for mosquitoes that could carry dengue fever and malaria — two tropical diseases of particular concern in Borneo.

The profusion of bird droppings that cover the buildings and the surrounding areas is also a concern. “When it’s dry, the wind will carry any particles and germs in it, possibly causing various respiratory diseases,” said Trisasi Lestari, a physician and researcher in the public health department of Gadjah Mada University.

But on the roads around Sukadana, potential health concerns seemed secondary, and swiftlet house owners seemed more concerned with the flightiness of the birds themselves.

In Riam Berasap Jaya village, Budi sat in a sweltering room staring at a mostly blank closed-circuit television screen. A recording of bird calls screamed at high volume in the next room. It had been six months since his swiftlet house was finished, but only a few nests dotted the walls.

Luck, Mr. Budi says, plays as great a role as preparation in swiftlet farming. You see, he said with a sigh, you can entice an edible-nest swiftlet to a birdhouse, but you can’t make it nest.

Mariamah Achmad contributed reporting from Ketapang, Indonesia.

10 Big Fat Pet Weddings
By IB Times Staff Reporter

Pet wedding is a growing trend, despite high divorce rates among humans.
Pet lovers have been throwing grand wedding parties to get their little ones walk down the aisle and tie knot to their partner.

Sometimes these wedding are made legal by putting their paw prints on a set of matrimonial documents.

A dog wearing a bridal veil attends a symbolic wedding as part of celebrations of a local municipality in Lima July 9, 2011.

A 7-year-old male monkey named Wukong (R) and a 6-year old female monkey named Xiaoya are seen during a special wedding ceremony at a zoo in Wenling, Zhejiang province, September 4, 2008. The zoo organised the special wedding ceremony hoping to attract more visitors, local media reported.

Dogs dressed as a bride (L) and groom (R) take part in a wedding ceremony for pets as part of Valentine's Day celebrations at a shopping mall in Hong Kong February 13, 2007.

"Newlyweds" Gook (R), a rooster, and Brown, (2nd-R), a hen, pose with fellow "newlyweds" rabbits Fufu and Blao after their wedding ceremonies to mark the upcoming Valentine's day in Bangkok on February 10, 2003. Many animals, including miniature poodles, attended the event.

Two spotted-billed pelicans participate in a wedding ceremony in a "bridal house" at a zoo in Fuzhou, southeast China's Fujian province April 25, 2007. The female pelican was found in south China's Hainan province, and brought to Fuzhou to mate with the male pelican, who lost his mate three years ago, local media reported.

Sterilized pet rabbits dressed in traditional Chinese costumes are pictured during a wedding ceremony in Hong Kong, where organizers also attempted to deliver messages of promoting kindness to animals, February 13, 2011. Rabbits are the third most neglected animals in Hong Kong after cats and dogs, according to figures from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), showing that around 200 rabbits are abandoned by their owners each year. The Hong Kong Rabbit Society says the situation could worsen over the Lunar New Year, which began on February 3 and marks the start of the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac.

A pair of chihuahua wears a wedding costume during a fashion show at the Woefstock dog festival in Antwerp October 21, 2006.

Female pig Huang Pu-pu (R) and male pig Shui Fu-ko kiss during their wedding ceremony in Taiwan's Yilan County February 5, 2007. The owners of the two pigs married the animals on the occasion of the upcoming Chinese New Year, also known as the "Year of the Pig".

Chimpanzee groom Yangyang (R) and his bride Wanxing attend a symbolic wedding at Hefei Wildlife Park in Hefei, Anhui province September 28, 2010. Four-year-old Guinea born Yangyang moved to the Hefei Wildlife Park after he was selected as six-year-old Wanxing's partner by the park in 2009.

Sterilized pet rabbits dressed in wedding outfits are pictured with their owners during a wedding ceremony in Hong Kong, where organizers also attempted to deliver messages of promoting kindness to animals, February 13, 2011. Rabbits are the third most neglected animals in Hong Kong after cats and dogs, according to figures from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), showing that around 200 rabbits are abandoned by their owners each year. The Hong Kong Rabbit Society says the situation could worsen over the Lunar New Year, which began on February 3 and marks the start of the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac.

Hints From Heloise:
The Heat Is On for Pets
By Heloise, washingtonpost.com

Dear Readers:

Summertime can pose a potential danger to your pets. Here are a few hints from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help protect your pets in extreme heat:

* Your pets can get dehydrated very quickly. Be sure to provide plenty of clean, fresh water when it’s hot.

* Do not leave your pet in the car for even a few minutes during hot days. When turned off, a car can become a hot oven in less than 10 minutes.

* Some dogs are good swimmers, and some are not. Don’t leave dogs unattended around a pool unless you know that your pooch can swim.

-- Heloise


Dear Readers:

Nancy P. in Gardiner, Maine, sent in a picture of her 9-year-old Yorkie, Maggie Mae, sitting up and riding around in her granddaughter’s baby walker. Nancy said that Maggie Mae will spend all day in there if you let her! To see Maggie Mae and our other Pet Pals, go to www.Heloise.com and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise:

My small parakeet is very smart! He has figured out how to open the three doors of his cage. I outsmarted him so that he would not escape. I put paper clips on each door, and twisted them so the clips will stay on.

-- Harriet in New Jersey


Dear Readers:

Have a difficult time bathing your dog because of the slipping and sliding in the tub? This is easily remedied. Grab a piece of shelf liner or an old bathmat and put it down for the animal to stand on. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise:

I have found an easy way to make a homemade bed -- cheap sleeping bags! I zip each bag up, fill it with cedar-bark bedding and clip the open end with jumbo clips. To wash the bed, I unzip it, pour the cedar chips into my flower beds, wash the sleeping bags and fill with fresh cedar.

-- A Reader, via email


Dear Heloise:

I use the plastic newspaper sleeves to collect waste from both my cat and dog.

When cleaning the litter box, I scoop up the litter with waste, then place it in a plastic sleeve and tie. It keeps everything contained, and odors are kept to a minimum.

When walking my dog (or cleaning the back yard), I put one plastic sleeve over my hand, pick up the waste and place it in another sleeve. It can then be tied and disposed of properly.

-- Jacinda H., Colorado Springs, Colo.


Dear Heloise:

An unclean hamster cage can stink, but cleaning it isn’t so hard. I take my hamster out of his cage and put him in his exercise ball. I take the cage outside and place the used litter in a large trash bag. Some mild dish detergent used on a plastic scrubbie will remove stubborn stains, and I just rinse well and dry.

-- Carrie in New Hampshire

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state.

Pets Pump You Up, Study Finds

You can credit your dog or cat with improving your well-being and confidence, researchers say.

(HealthDay News) -- Pets are a key source of social and emotional support for their owners, whether they are "everyday" people or those facing serious health problems, a news study finds.

"We observed evidence that pet owners fared better, both in terms of well-being outcomes and individual differences, than non-owners on several dimensions," said lead researcher Allen R. McConnell, of Miami University in Ohio.

"Specifically, pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extroverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners," McConnell added.

To assess the benefits of pet ownership, researchers performed three experiments. First, they asked 217 people (about 80 percent women, with an average age of 31) whether pet owners differed from people who didn't have pets in well-being, personality and attachment style. In general, they found pet owners to be happier, in better health and better adjusted than non-owners.

Next, they questioned 56 dog owners (about 90 percent women, with an average age of 42) to determine if they benefited more when their pet seemed to fulfill their social needs. They found that owners experienced greater well-being, and reported that their dogs increased their feelings of belonging, self-esteem and a meaningful life.

For the third experiment, researchers asked 97 college undergraduates (average age 19) to write about a time when they felt excluded. Then they asked them to write about their favorite pet, or to write about their favorite friend. Writing about their pets was as therapeutic as writing about a friend, the researchers found.

The study was recently published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"[T]he present work presents considerable evidence that pets benefit the lives of their owners, both psychologically and physically, by serving as an important source of social support," the researchers wrote in a journal news release. "Whereas past work has focused primarily on pet owners facing significant health challenges, the present study establishes that there are many positive consequences for everyday people who own pets."

The study authors added that no evidence emerged to show that relationships with pets came at the expense of relationships with other people, or that people relied more on pets when their human social support was lacking.

By Jill Christofferson, DVM Columnist

Q: My 7-year-old Lab has really bad breath. Her teeth look clean and I am using chlorophyll tablets from the pet store. Is there something better that I can use? -- Barbara P, Walnut Creek

A: Bad breath is a common complaint among dog owners. It would be great if there was a magic pill that you could give that would resolve it, but I am afraid I don't have one.

Bad breath can have a variety of causes so it's not always easy to find the solution.

The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is some form of dental disease. Even if your dog appears to have beautiful teeth, there may be periodontal disease that you can't see.

When dogs develop periodontal disease -- in which the supporting structures around the teeth become infected -- bad breath develops. One of the worst causes of bad breath is a poorly understood disease called chronic ulcerative paradental stomatitis, where the gum and cheek tissues become inflamed and ulcerated due to a reaction to bacteria-containing plaque on the tooth surface. Dogs with this disease have terrible breath which responds poorly to most types of treatment.

Additional causes of bad breath that originate within the mouth include foreign bodies like sticks or bones which wedge themselves between the teeth or across the roof of the mouth, and oral tumors.

Disorders of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine can also result in bad breath. Gastric reflux, where stomach acid comes in contact with the lining of the esophagus, will result in ulceration of the esophagus and can lead to bad breath.

Slow or delayed emptying of food from the stomach will also contribute to bad breath.

Changes in normal intestinal bacteria can result from inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatic enzyme deficiencies. These changes in bacterial colonies may cause an unusual odor to the breath.

Usually dogs with one or more of these gastrointestinal diseases will have other signs like weight loss, vomiting, or diarrhea as well.

Skin infections can mimic bad breath. Infections of the lower lips can cause severe odor which people often mistake for bad breath. An area the size of a pencil eraser can be infected and the dog will appear to have terrible breath.

Have your Lab examined by your vet. A complete physical examination should be performed and blood tests may be recommended.

If no other cause can be found, a complete dental examination under anesthesia with teeth cleaning and dental X-rays should be performed to look for and treat periodontal disease.

It may not be a quick fix, but it will be worth it when she is sitting next to you on the sofa and you aren't forced to hold your nose.

Ask Dr. Jill Veterinary Advice is a column written by Jill Christofferson, DVM, of the Encina Veterinary Hospital in Walnut Creek. Contact her at askthevet@encinavet.com .

Bobcat on a Saguaro (Photos)

Dog is a Hero After Saving
 Apartment Residents from Fire
Submitted by Patrick Preston - katu.com

Kelli Landis and her dog, Marcus.

A Beaverton family calls their dog a hero for saving them from a teenaged fire starter.

The golden shepherd, Marcus, woke his owners up with barking as their apartment building, the Birchepointe Apartments on Northwest Cornell Road near 179th, began to burn.

Several families can thank Marcus for saving their lives because the fire that started just after midnight Thursday was moving up the building when Marcus’ owners discovered it. They were sound asleep when Marcus starting acting unusual, which is something Kelli Landis said she and her husband had never seen before.

“Had he not been barking and just sounding different than he usually did, we could have just still stayed asleep,” Landis said. “But the thing was that he was being so loud. And he even came into the bedroom and was growling and just making a lot of noise. And that got us up."

Her husband ran outside their apartment and found the side of the building on fire which had been set right where a fire extinguisher was located. He got the attention of neighbors and together they used pots, pans and trash cans full of water to douse the flames.

Firefighters were particularly concerned the fire was set at an exit point and at the location of the fire extinguisher. Had the teenager, who has been arrested, been more successful, residents would have had a very difficult time getting out of their apartments.

“It was definitely a little disturbing and unnerving to think that somebody would deliberately do this and deliberately set a fire extinguisher on fire so that we couldn’t put it out,” Landis said.

Landis and her husband just moved to Beaverton from Hawaii where they adopted Marcus from the Humane Society. They contemplated leaving him behind because of the expense but they couldn’t bring themselves to say goodbye. It was a decision that may have saved their lives.

“He was a rescue dog. “We rescued him and now he’s rescued us,” Landis said.

Even with the quick response the fire caused $5,000 in damage. A 13-year-old neighbor is in custody. He’s charged with reckless burning which is a misdemeanor. That’s a lesser charge than arson but is essentially the same type of crime. Thanks to Marcus there were no injuries.

Neither Beaverton police nor Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue will say how their investigation led to the teenager.

Marcus was rewarded with a new toy ball, a rawhide bone and a lot of love.

Pa. Police: 5 Kids Throw Rocks at Pet Alligators

Authorities in eastern Pennsylvania say five children broke into a house and threw rocks at the homeowner's pet alligators, injuring at least two.

Police said Friday that the children, who ranged in age from 9 to 13, entered the Price Township house through a partially open window.

Police say the youths threw about 50 quarter-size rocks at the reptiles. The owner has 11 alligators weighing between 30 pounds and more than 200 pounds.

Treating the gators' injuries _ which include a broken leg _ cost the homeowner about $6,000.

State police in Swiftwater described the June 29 incident as a case of burglary, trespassing and cruelty to animals. They did not say if the intruders will be charged.

Boulder Police:
Danielle Blankenship Denied Blowing
 Heroin Smoke in Cat's Face
By Erica Meltzer, Daily Camera Staff Writer

Investigators waiting to determine whether Muffin had drugs in system

The woman suspected of causing the death of a cat by blowing heroin smoke in its face told Boulder police she would never hurt the cat and denied smoking heroin at all, according to a police report released today.

And the person who told police the woman blew smoke in the cat's face -- her ex-boyfriend -- also told an animal control officer that he didn't know anything about what happened to the cat and said there was no heroin in the apartment, the report said.

Danielle Blankenship, 21, was arrested Tuesday after Boulder police responded to a domestic violence call at the apartment of her ex-boyfriend, Robert Thompson, and found the cat, Muffin, unresponsive.

Blankenship pleaded not guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and third-degree assault/domestic violence.

Blankenship is free on $1,500 bond and is due for a pre-trial hearing Aug. 17. Neither she nor Thompson could be reached for comment.

According to the police report, Thompson, 24, told police that Blankenship had come by his apartment, and he wanted her to leave. She wanted to call someone to get her because her car wouldn't start. He said she hit him several times in the head when he offered her the phone and didn't stop until he grabbed her arms.

Blankenship told police that Thompson was preventing her from using the phone, and she hit him in an effort to get the phone.

Thompson told police Blankenship had been smoking heroin and blew smoke in the face of the cat, which belonged to his roommate, the report said.

However, according to a supplemental report filed by the animal control officer, when questioned about whether the cat had been exposed to any sort of drug or toxin, Thompson said neither he nor Blankenship had done anything to the cat, and he did not know what happened. He told the officer he doesn't really like cats and doesn't usually "deal" with Muffin. He said the cat was walking around and appeared fine about an hour before the police came.

It was the police officer who told the animal control officer about the heroin-smoke claim.

The cat was taken to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, where veterinarians treated it for poisoning. Muffin was transported to the Boulder Emergency Pet Clinic, where he "crashed." The cat was revived with CPR, but then crashed again a short time later, the report said. A second attempt at resuscitation was unsuccessful.

Blankenship told police she smokes marijuana but does not do other drugs, the report said. She said she did not smoke heroin or blow smoke in the cat's face. She said she would never hurt the cat and told police it was very old.

The animal control officer said the cat appeared to be between 3 and 5 years old.

Blankenship does not currently face any drug charges. Boulder police spokeswoman Kim Kobel said officers placed a higher priority on the domestic violence and animal welfare issues than the drug claims.

A necropsy and toxicology tests are being performed on the cat to determine the cause of death and whether there were drugs in the cat's system.

Boulder police spokeswoman Kim Kobel said results were not available this morning.

Prosecutors are considering felony animal cruelty charges in the case but have not made a decision.

Missing Arkansas Dog Found After 7 Years

ROGERS, Ark. - A dog that went missing seven years ago in northwest Arkansas soon will be reunited with her original owner after living under a pseudonym for all that time with another family in the same town.

Andrew Navarette told animal control officers that he let his Shih Tzu, Mimi, out in the backyard of his Rogers home seven years ago but that when he went to retrieve her she had disappeared, the Rogers Morning News reported Thursday.

Navarette was unable to track Mimi down, even though she had a microchip implanted in her neck containing his contact information.

It is not clear what happened to Mimi that day, but some time later, Kim Rafter of Rogers acquired the animal from someone in good faith, renamed her Gizmo, and has cared for her ever since, KHOG TV reported.

Meanwhile, Navarette relocated to Woodlake, Calif.

On Saturday, Mimi showed up at an animal shelter in Rogers where officials found the chip and called Navarette, who had kept the same cell phone number through the years. Rafter did not explain to KHOG how she lost the pooch at the weekend.

Assistant shelter manager Matt Colston said Navarette was clearly excited that Mimi had been found and immediately said he would pay for the Shih Tzu to be shipped to his home in California.

Shelter manager Bud Norman said Mimi is in good health and has been well-cared for.

Rafter said it will be difficult to say goodbye to the animal her family has known as Gizmo for the past seven years.

“We’ve loved Gizmo for all of those years and taken care of her,” Rafter said. “She’s a part of our family and it would be devastating for us to lose her.”

Rafter said she had no idea that the dog’s real owner had been looking for her. “They told me she had been a gift to this man’s wife from her dad and then he passed away,” Rafter said.

“I’m a sympathetic person and I wouldn’t want to take anybody’s dog away, but I’m sure that, as little as she was when we got her, I’m sure we’re the only ones she’s bonded with.”

Do You Work Like a Dog?
What Your Pet Says about Your Career
By Michael Koretzky - moneytalksnews.com

Some surveys are weighty and important and shed light on significant shifts in American life – like this one by PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that shows the number of homeless families with children who spent time in a shelter rose by 30 percent between 2007 and 2009.

Then there’s the pet survey by employment website CareerBuilder.

In a debatable use of money, CareerBuilder polled 2,300 workers with pets. Here’s what it learned …

Workers with dogs are more likely to report holding senior management positions like CEO and CFO.

Workers with snakes or other reptiles are the most likely to earn six figures.

Workers with birds are the most likely to be satisfied with their jobs.
But the survey didn’t stop there. It wanted to know: Does owning a certain pet help determine your career path? Apparently, yes …

Dog owners are more likely to be professors, nurses, IT professionals, and entertainers.

Cat owners are more likely to be physicians, real estate agents, science/medical lab technicians, machine operators, and personal caretakers.

Fish owners are more likely to work in human resources, farming, fishing, and forestry.

Bird owners are more likely to be advertising professionals, sales representatives, and construction workers.

Snake and reptile owners are more likely to be engineers, social workers, marketing/public relations professionals, police officers – and editors and writers.

If you’re skeptical about this survey, we are, too – because no one here at Money Talks News owns a snake or a reptile.

Mom Protests Giving Away Goldfish
 as Prizes at Ann Arbor Carnival
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com

Ann Arbor residents Ellen Wolgat, age 16, left, and her boyfriend Kyle Morrison, age 18, hold up a goldfish that Ellen won at the Ann Arbor Jaycees Carnival at Pioneer High School.

When Renee McPhail’s teenage daughter went to the Ann Arbor Jaycees Carnival at Pioneer High School Thursday night, the mother was surprised when her daughter came home with a new pet.

Instead of a stuffed animal or a bag of cotton candy, her daughter walked in the door with a pair of goldfish in a plastic bag: Living, breathing, swimming gold fish. Her daughter’s boyfriend had won them at a carnival game called The Goldfish Game.

That's when McPhail started to worry about the wisdom of handing out pets as prizes.

“This isn’t a cause I intended to get into,” she said. But she began questioning what happened to the fish once they left the carnival. Would they be tossed in the parking lot or in the trash?

Most people, she said, don’t have a tank and equipment waiting at home.

“The idea is charming at first until you realize it’s a responsibility,” McPhail said. “When you get a pet at the Humane Society, they explain how to take care of the animal. They talk about the responsibility.”

She researched Michigan’s animal cruelty law, which covers vertebrates. And also found out that some U.S. cities and some foreign countries prohibit doling out fish as prizes.

McPhail contacted Ann Arbor Jaycees. “Your organization needs to tell the carnival operators to find a more suitable prize - a more humane, reasonable trinket to give out,” McPhail emailed the Jaycees.

She wasn’t happy with the response. Mary Jo Knitter, Jaycees’ president, responded that they have no control over how carnival operator McDonagh Amusements from Chesaning, runs the show, and that they trusted the operator.

Karey Reed, legal counsel for the Ann Arbor Jaycees, said the operator had cleared all inspections and codes and that The Fish Game will continue during the carnival's time in Ann Arbor with fish as prizes.

While no one from McDonagh was willing to make a comment, Lynn Tasker said she contracts with the amusement company to run The Gold Fish Game. This is her first time at the Ann Arbor carnival, but she has been operating the midway game for nine years.

The game involves trying to toss a ball (a bucket of balls goes for $5) in one of the bowls: Hit a regular bowl, win a gold fish. Hit a premium bowl, win a stuffed animal. Goldfish winners are given a ticket and usually return to claim their fish right before they leave the carnival, Tasker said.

Goldfish, she added, are not allowed on the rides. Young children are usually with their parents, and she usually warns winners to take care of their fish.

“But what happens to them after they leave here, I don’t know the answer,” Tasker said. Business was slow the first day of the Ann Arbor carnival, she said. She only handed out 25 gold fish. On good days, she said, she gives out 200.

The Fish Game also gives away lizards as a top prize, McPhail said. Her daughter, in fact, was hoping to win a lizard.

Meanwhile, the ending wasn’t so happy for the two fish McPhail’s daughter brought home.

Her daugher, Ellen Wolgat, put the two gold fish in a vase, filled it with water and bought fish food. By this morning, the fish she named Willow was dead. But Chibbles, the stronger of the two, was doing swimmingly.

Do you approve of giving away pets as prizes?

Cute Dog Alert! Ciara Plays with Her Pups in LA

Forget about Ciara‘s “goodies,” these days the singer is all about her adorable new puppies!

The leggy R&B singer was spotted playing with her two new pups while she was out running errands in Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon. After hitting up a clothing store, Ciara stopped by a patch of grass and scooped her two patient dogs out of her Louis Vuitton dog carrying case so they could use the doggy restroom.

The dogs – a miniature schnauzer puppy and a cokcapoo mix – trotted around on the grass in front of a group of photographers who happily took the camera-ready pups’ picture.

It's a Cougar, say Couple Who Took Photo,
but Others Doubt It
Jennifer Mastroianni - cantonrep.com

WASHINGTON TWP. — Jeanne and Bill Ecrement don’t care what people say. They know what they saw in their back pasture on the morning of June 30. They saw it with their own eyes, through binoculars, and through a camera lens.

They say they saw a mountain lion. And they took pictures to prove it. Since then, they’ve hung a huge chunk of raw meat from a tree on their 14 acres in hopes they will see and photograph the animal again.

The elusive cougar reportedly has been spotted in numerous locations throughout the county in the last 10 days, but no photographs have been offered until now. Since The Repository published a grainy photo Friday morning at CantonRep.com, plenty of people have weighed in with comments and critiques. Skeptics included officials with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Could the tan creature with the raised paw really be a mountain lion?

“There is no doubt in my mind,” says Jeanne, 59, a home health care aide.

Jeanne was getting ready for work about 6:30 a.m. when something out her kitchen window caught her eye. She thought it was the coyote a neighbor had seen wandering around Bayton Street NE the week before.

“I told Bill, ‘I can see the coyote,’ ” Jeanne said. For several minutes, she watched the animal sun itself in the pasture grass about 130 yards from the house.

As Jeanne got ready for work, Bill grabbed binoculars. He realized the tan animal definitely was not a coyote and pulled up a picture of a mountain lion off the Web. The online photo matched the animal’s huge paws, head shape and long tail.

“It looked exactly like the picture, ears and everything,” Jeanne said.

The couple watched the animal through binoculars for about 15 minutes, then Bill walked outside to his deck and snapped several photos. Jeanne continued to watch through the binoculars, and was shocked when something else sauntered into her range of sight.

“I watched a coyote walk out of the woods, make a U-turn, then walk right back in the woods,” she said. “Then the mountain lion got up and slowly walked in where the coyote was, not aggressively at all though.” The couple did not realize they captured the coyote on film until they pulled the photo up on their television screen.

The Ecrements wish their pictures were clearer and in better scale so people could see the animals’ sizes.

“The coyote was as big as a dog, and the mountain lion was more than twice as big as the coyote,” Jeanne said.

Skeptics say the tan animal is a house cat. No way, says Bill, 64, a retired millwright from the Timken Co.

“With a regular cat, you would never have been able to see it in the grass,” Bill said. He estimates the pasture grass to be 18 to 24 inches high.

Later that morning, the couple contacted the Ohio Division of Wildlife, which, they say, declined to come out and investigate.

Jamey Graham, spokesperson for the Ohio Division of Wildlife headquartered in Akron, said she carefully examined the photo, and sees neither coyote nor cougar.

“I firmly believe, as does the wildlife biologist in this office, that this is two house cats,” Graham said. “If you look at the animal raising its paw, it’s a very streamlined leg with a smooth transition there. With mountain lions, their legs almost explode into a paw; they have massive paws.”

Also, a mountain lion’s face has light and dark features for camouflage purposes, she said.

“Despite the poor quality of the photo, you would still see some color variation in the face,” Graham said.

And why would a mountain lion relax near a coyote? Or if it is a coyote and a house cat, why would they be so calm near each other?

“In either case, one would want to eat the other,” Graham said.

Graham says the Ecrements didn’t see a large cat, but others may have.

“I think there definitely is something out there, since we’ve had a lot of calls and confident reports,” she said. “But I’m thinking it’s not necessarily a mountain lion. There are so many other species (of cats) out there that people have as pets, such as African or Asian, that I think it’s probably something smaller. We’ll see. Only time will tell.”

Susan and Jeffrey Fitzgerald, of Plain Township, want residents to know they are not missing a cougar. Police and wildlife officials recently checked the couple’s property to be sure.

“We used to own two of them, but it was about eight years ago,” said Susan, 59, of 3624 Millvale Ave. NE. The only exotic animal the Fitzgeralds own is an 11-year-old black bear named Ben.

Even well-behaved cats can get loose, Susan said. Her 150-pound cougar, Katana, escaped twice when she owned her.

“But she was so tame. She would just lay in the weeds and whine for me, like she was saying, ‘Mommy, come get me.’ ” When Katana was 6, Susan bought a male cat, Ruger, to keep her company. Six months later, Ruger ripped Katana’s throat open, killing her. Brokenhearted, the Fitzgeralds donated Ruger to a rescue and never got any more big cats.

The cougar spotted in the area must be someone’s abandoned or escaped pet, Susan said.

“I don’t know how tame it is, but it must be running scared, most likely hiding near where there is water and shade,” she said.

As for the photo, that’s no cougar, Susan said. “Its head would be much bigger.”

The animal also is not from Noah’s Lost Ark Exotic Animal Rescue Facility, in Berlin Township in Mahoning County. Executive director Ellen Whitehouse said her 80 big cats are accounted for. As for the photo, Whitehouse isn’t sold.

“Looks like a kitty cat to me,” she said. “If you look at the paw, it’s not a cougar paw.”

The 11-year-old, nonprofit organization houses more than 200 animals, including bears, deer, elk, zebra, and monkeys — all previously owned as pets and then given to the rescue facility.

“You can’t believe how many people have these animals, such as cougars, wolves,” she said. “Just look at Ming, the tiger who lived in a New York apartment for 21⁄2 years.”

Whitehouse hopes the animal will be captured, not killed.

“Hopefully, the cat can be captured, perhaps by a tranquilizer,” she said. “If it can, we will take it.”

Noah’s Lost Ark is working on a $50,000 habitat for its mountain lions, which will be completed next month. The facility is open to the public with a small admission. Visit www.noahslostark.org.

On the Beach or With a Bone, Summer is Great
The Happy Wag - roanoke.com

Rudy is a well-traveled Shih Tzu. In these two photos, sent in by his pet mom, Robin Ferguson, Rudy shows his patriotism on the streets of Gatlinburg and takes in a serene sunrise in the surf at Myrtle Beach.

Beware of Salmonella Risk with Pet Foods, Treats
By Linda Wilson Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Do you feed your cats and dogs in the kitchen? Do you wash their food bowls and water bowls in the kitchen sink?

I do both of those things, and now a report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association warns I'm putting my family and the family dog at risk for salmonella infection.

Many reports of salmonella outbreaks tied to pet foods and treats have been reported in recent years. Is the pesky bacteria increasingly prevalent or is everyone becoming more vigilant?

"That's a hard question to answer. We do have better reporting mechanisms," said Christine Hoang, a veterinarian who also has a master's degree in public health. She's the assistant director for scientific activities at AVMA, and educating the public is part of her job.

No one should panic about any of this, she said, because "no one is at huge risk" although "salmonella is everywhere." The good news is there are many tips to prevent the spread of salmonella.

Pet water bowls, food bowls and the scoops used to fill them should be washed "routinely with hot soapy water in a sink other than in the kitchen or bathroom," says the report written by Kate S. KuKanich, a veterinarian at Kansas State University.

I've never washed dog bowls with family dishes. That just seemed wrong, though I was thinking about dog slobber, not salmonella. I use paper towels to wash and dry dog bowls, rather than the family dish cloth and towel.

Then I spray bleach in our old white kitchen sink because its pitted porcelain surface stains easily.

Ms. Hoang said bleach can kill the salmonella bacteria. That's good, because I don't see myself making a lot of extra trips up and down the basement steps to wash dog bowls in the laundry tub.

Here's more tips from the JAVMA article:

• Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling pet food and treats.

• Discourage young children, the elderly and the immunosuppressed from handling pet food and treats.

• Pig ears, which have turned up in a number of recalls, should be purchased in sealed packages rather than from open bulk bins.

• Avoid raw food diets for pets.

• Make sure the packaging of all pet food products are in good condition when you buy them. Return to the store products that appear tainted, discolored or have a bad odor.

• Follow label instructions for food storage. Dry foods and treats should be stored in a cool, dry place.

• Many people transfer food from bags and boxes to "better" storage containers. That's fine, but hang on to the original packaging, especially the date and product codes, so that if there's a product recall for salmonella, you'll know whether your pet's food was affected.

If your infection control safeguards have failed, Salmonella symptoms can range from mild to severe in people and in animals. Look for gastrointestinal symptoms, Ms. Hoang said.

In animals it's usually diarrhea. In people its can be diarrhea and vomiting. Bloody diarrhea is never a good sign, and should prompt a call to the doctor or vet.

Sterilizing Dogs and Cats
Credited with Saving Lives
By SUE MANNING - miamiherald.com

When Stephen Zawistowski got his first dog 50 years ago, she was the only dog in the neighborhood that was spayed.

“She had an incision that must have been a foot long and was sewn up with what looked like piano wire,” says Zawistowski, science adviser for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

It took years of campaigning to change thinking about sterilizing pets, but it has paid off. This year fewer than 4 million unwanted dogs and cats will be euthanized, down from as many as 20 million before 1970.

There are several reasons: Aggressive adopt-a-pet campaigns are carried out every day in cities all over the country, and breed rescues save many dogs. But animal experts believe spaying and neutering has played the biggest role in saving so many lives.

Nearly every public shelter, private rescue or animal welfare organization in the country donates money, space or time to low-cost spay and neuter clinics.

While shelters are firmly onboard, the biggest problem has been selling sterilization programs to pet owners. When pets are spayed or neutered, their reproductive organs are removed so they can no longer breed. Some people consider that unnecessary mutilation.

But medical procedures have caught up in the last half-century and a lot of people have changed their thinking.

“Now they make a one- or two-inch incision and use self-absorbing sutures” that mean a much quicker recovery, Zawistowski says.

In addition to eliminating shelter kills, spaying and neutering can make pets easier to manage, less aggressive and healthier, said Andrew N. Rowan, president and CEO of Humane Society International and chief scientific officer for the Humane Society of the United States.

The steep decline in the number of animals being euthanized each year comes even as the pet population has boomed. In 1970, there were about 62 million companion pets and today there are about 170 million, Zawistowski said.

Detecting, Treating Pet's Oral Cancer
Karri Miller - theledger.com

Dogs can develop tumors in a variety of locations. The most common ones that are noticed by owners are on the skin, but tumors can occur in areas that are difficult to see. One of these such places is in your pet's mouth. For those people who have dogs who pant a lot, a look in the mouth may be more easily performed at home. However, most oral tumors (masses in the mouth) in dogs are found by your family veterinarian during a routine examination or dental procedure.


The most common oral tumor in dogs is melanoma. They are usually black colored masses that can occur on the gums, lips, tongue, or tonsils of your pet. However, the color of a mass cannot be used to determine the type of mass, since some melanomas will be pink in color. The behavior of these tumors is very aggressive. They can invade bones of the jaw locally and are very likely to spread to other organs. Because of those reasons, melanoma can be very frustrating to treat. Veterinarians need to treat the local tumor and prevent the spread of the tumor to other areas of the body.

Surgery to remove the mass can help control the tumor in the mouth. If surgery cannot be performed, radiation therapy may help shrink the mass so it is no longer causing problems for your pet. While surgery and radiation may be scary words, pets tolerate these procedures very well and recovery times are very short. The goal of both of these therapies would be to alleviate any signs or discomfort your pet is having related to the mass.

Once the mass is controlled locally, preventing spread to other organs should be addressed. Melanomas can be very aggressive, and they like to spread to the lymph nodes or the lungs. Sometimes, both lymph nodes and lungs can be affected. In the past 5 years, a new therapy has been developed that has lengthened patient's survival dramatically. This therapy is a melanoma vaccine. While we think of vaccines as a preventative against disease in most cases, the melanoma vaccine is administered once your pet develops melanoma. These vaccines help the immune system fight the cancer cells. They have proven to be the most successful therapy developed for oral melanoma to date. Side effects are very minimal for these vaccines. Before melanoma vaccines were developed, dogs with aggressive disease survived for an average of 1-2 months. Now, dogs receiving the vaccine can live for a year or more with a good quality of life.

It is important to know that any mass in the mouth can cause discomfort when eating, occasional bleeding, and bad breath. If you notice any of these signs in your pet, you should seek the advice of your regular veterinarian.

If you have any questions regarding your pet and cancer, please write your questions to Dr. Miller at gatorvet03@hotmail.com.

[ Karri Miller works at Veterinary Healthcare Associates in Winter Haven. She is the only full-time board certified veterinary oncologist in Central Florida. ]

5 Tips to Safely Introduce
Dogs and Cats for the First Time
Story by Lori Thomas - allpetnews.com

Any pet owner that has both a cat and a dog probably knows the expression, “they fight like cats and dogs”, very well. If that’s the case in your household, you will want to read this article! If you are thinking of owning one of each, there are a variety of things that you can do to maintain an appropriate level of sanity in your home. A dogs and cats ability to get along is influenced by their individual experiences with the other species before they are paired up. Their communication styles are also different, which can lead to confusion. For example, cats lash their tail to indicate displeasure or even anger, while dogs wag their tail to show they are happy and eager to play. You can help them to share a home by keeping each pet’s best interests and instincts in mind.

Introducing Them for the First Time

1. Bring them together as puppies and kittens

If you don’t already have either pet but know you want both, the best way to introduce them to each other is as babies, simply because they don’t already have any experiences to alter the way they will react to each other. They will form a bond as they grow up together, but it is important to supervise play time, as a puppy will grow larger more quickly than the kitten.

2. Choose based on history and personality

When adopting the newest members of your family, it will be best to pair them based on their history (even if very short) and their personality. A rescue organization or animal shelter will be able to assist you in choosing the best pair, as they will have the knowledge of their predispositions.

3. Gradual, supervised meeting

In order to keep both cat and dog from becoming overly anxious, jealous, or angry, it is best to slowly introduce one pet to the other, especially if either one is already an existing member of the family. Always make sure the meeting is supervised, but be sure to let them get a feel for each other as well. If you are showing signs of distress, both animals will pick up on that, making for a less than perfect first introduction.

4. Keep both on a leash

If you already have a dog and are introducing a cat to the household, or vice versa, it would be best to put a leash on both of them for the first meeting. This will allow you to control any behavior that gets out of control, while not making one feel jealous because he’s the only one on a leash.

5. Introduce through scent

Animals don’t only get to know each other by seeing and spending time together. A good way to introduce them to each other is to introduce their scents to each other. Gently rub a towel, washcloth, T-shirt, or sock over your dog, then place it near the cat’s food dish or bed. After a few days, rub the item with the dog’s scent over the cat, mingling their scents. Then repeat the same procedure for your dog.

Introducing a cat and dog can be a trying time for not only them, but for the pet owner as well. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll have them living happily together in no time!

A Snatched Cat, and Then a Snatched Flier
 About a Snatched Cat
By COREY KILGANNON - nytimes.com

Illustration by Michael Kolomatsky/The New York Times

Melvin Bukiet walked out of his five-story town house on West 108th Street on Tuesday and went the half-block to Broadway to drop a letter in the mailbox.

There, taped to a light post on the corner was a flier bearing a color photograph of a white cat, and the banner headline “Snatched.”

He moved closer and saw that this was about a lost pet. This is how he recollects the wording on the flier.

“SNATCHED: white cat off balcony by large, red-tailed hawk.”

Pet cat snatched by hawk. Could it be? Mr. Bukiet believes so.

“But I also believe a cat could jump off the balcony and catch a hawk in midair — I believe any creature can kill any other creature,” he said.

He alluded to the proliferation of red-tailed hawks in New York City and called this possibility of an invasion of pet-snatching raptors “the other side of that issue.”

By dinnertime, Mr. Bukiet found that the flier he saw had been taken down — a cynic might wonder if it was snatched by the same hawk — and after looking around the immediate area, he saw there were no others.

On Wednesday morning, it was easy to find other people who had seen the sign, but none who had snapped a picture of it.

The question remained: If the hawk was big enough, the cat small enough, and the news day slow enough, could this “Snatched” scenario have happened.

“Definitely, it could happen,” said Gabriel Moroianu, who had also spotted the flier. Mr. Moroianu, who manages the newly opened Mexican restaurant Cascabel Taqueria, near where the flier was posted, said he had great respect for the prowess of urban hawks.

“They don’t hold back,” he said, adding that he witnessed a traumatic hawk attack on a sledding hill in Central Park last winter.

“A hawk swooped down and devoured a pigeon,” he said. “It left a bloody mess and all the kids stopped sledding and were screaming. It was bad.”

Cathy Konciak, a pilates instructor at Pilates Shop/Yoga Garage on Broadway, near where the flier was posted, said she saw the flier and was immediately skeptical.

“The sign said something like, ‘If you find the cat’s body, please give us a call,’ ” she recalled. “Maybe they thought the hawk might have dropped the cat.”

She added, “I thought it was very odd, but it’s New York.”

Lauren Butcher, the education director at the Raptor Trust in Millington, N.J., said it would be “highly unusual” but not impossible for a hawk to fly off with a cat.

Red-tail hawks can have a wingspan as long at five feet, she said, and have been known to seize squirrels, smaller rabbits and occasionally a skunk.

“But a cat is not in their search image, as far as prey,” she said. “I’ve never heard of it happening.”

Then she said, “It’s very difficult to say ‘Absolutely not,’ because truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.”

Mr. Bukiet, a novelist and a writing professor at Sarah Lawrence College, said he kept his three cats off his terrace, not because of the possibility of winged, clawed death from above, but because “it just freaks them out.”

Mr. Bukiet said he saw only the one flier but speculated there were others.

“Logic has it, if you’re going to Xerox a flier and you care about a cat, you’re going to make more than one,” he said. Then he flexed his novelist imagination.

“You really have two stories here,” he said. “The story of the missing cat and the story of the missing fliers. You can imagine some kid who told his mother a hawk came and snatched Fluffy off the balcony. The mom goes out and posters the neighborhood and the kid confesses he dropped Fluffy down the garbage chute. The mom goes out and rips down all the fliers.”

As good an explanation as any.

Pet Talk:
Safety Do’s and Don'ts for Pets
By Anne Divine - Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth, Kan. — I periodically give talks to children about pet safety and preventing harm resulting from their interactions with pets…mostly dogs.

My hope is that kids can experience the joys of sharing our world with pet animals and that neither will have an unpleasant encounter.

A key principle is “do not bother an animal”…and they will not bother you.

The “Golden Rule” comes into play. I want children to understand that animals are living, breathing creatures that can feel pain and fear just as kids can and will have an unpleasant experience when mistreated just as they would have. Following are admonitions to follow when interacting with animals.

◦Do not tease a dog or cat. Remember that you do not like to be teased.

◦Never touch an unknown dog. Even if you know the dog, always ask permission from the owner first.

◦Don’t invade any dog’s space. Let it come to you.

◦Dogs do not like to be approached by surprise, from behind or touched on the head. Once they know you are present, pet them under the chin, on their chest or on the back.

◦Never stare at a dog’s eyes or put your face close to theirs. Look at them briefly and then look away. This helps them trust you.

◦Dogs that are tied up or are behind a fence should be left alone. They feel protective and might become aggressive trying to defend their territory.

◦Sleeping dogs or cats might be startled if disturbed and could react aggressively.

◦Eating dogs and cats should be left alone. Some are greedy about their food and will growl or bite if they think you are going to take it away.

◦Dogs can also be very possessive about bones or other treasured toys.

◦Remember that dogs and cats are living creatures and not cuddly toys. Many do not like to be hugged, carried around or played with roughly. Their only defenses are their teeth and claws and they may use them.

◦Children can be taught what actions to take if they should be approached by a potentially dangerous dog. Most stray dogs are not dangerous but that can not be known by a child. When a dog’s “prey instincts” are aroused they are more likely to pursue or try to attack. Following are some rules to follow when kids find themselves in an uncomfortable encounter with a dog.

◦Do not run from a dog or wave your arms around.

◦Try very hard not to scream or cry out. Kids have to practice this drill as it is against all their instincts.

◦Avoid eye contact and slowly back away if possible.

◦Or remain motionless. Be “still like a tree”.

◦In most situations, the dog, will lose interest and go away.

◦If a dog comes close, frightens a child or makes bodily contact their best option is to:

◦Put something between themselves and the dog like a book bag, bicycle or clothing and then slowly back away to a safe place.

◦If knocked over they should roll into a ball, protecting their head with their arms and lie still.

◦Be “still like a log” and stay that way until someone comes to help.
It would be helpful to discuss these concepts with children periodically.
Practicing the drill might enable them to avoid harm from a pet.

Anne Divine is a long time member of LAWS and has volunteered at Animal Control for 18 years. She can be reached at: adivine@kc.rr.com.

Mom Talk:
Pets Are Doggone Serious Business
By Erin Gallagher - patch.com

At what point should parents get rid of the family pet if kids don't take care of them?

Photo Credit Erin Gallagher

A mom had to make a tough decision with her daughters. She didn't want to. But the girls are both grown now and old enough to accept their responsibility for the situation.

The mom decided she had to get rid of the girls' two large dogs. The fact of the matter is neither daughter has been taking care of them. Their dad has been feeding and watering them every day. Their mom walks them. The beautiful Labs live in large cages in the back yard.

Now, the younger girl is off to college. The older girl lives in a temporary apartment where pets are not allowed. So neither of them is in a position to take care of the animals. Still, even when they were both living at home, the parents did most of the work.

"I refuse to feel guilty about this because if it weren't for (us parents), the dogs would be dead," the mom told me on the phone.

She is right. And even though she says she is not feeling guilty, I know this is breaking her heart.

Nobody wants to separate a child from their dog. The love of an animal is a bond that can last a lifetime. But in this case, I'm siding with the mom.

Dogs are a huge responsibility. It is so much more than just saying you have a dog. All animals need a quality life, just like people.

Absolutely there is a time and a place for a cage or a leash. Both dogs and cats can feel secure in cages up to a point. Extended amounts of time in a cage, however, is cruel. As for a leash, keeping a dog tied up all day can be dangerous. It can easily get tangled up or choke.

Leashes are necessary when taking a dog for a walk. I once got chased by a Rottweiler that wasn't leashed. I lived near a bike path. The owner pulled into the parking lot, opened her door and let the monster dog loose to run.

That blankety-blank dog came barreling around our row of houses while I was on my way home from the neighbors. I ran three houses and just barely made it into my front door. I called the police, and blagh, blagh, blagh, she got a measly $20 no-leash ticket. In this case, I say save the dog, shoot the owner.

The point is, there are enough irresponsible pet owners out there. We need to teach our children better.

This mom I am talking about understands that. She has made perfect arrangements for her daughters' dogs. They will live in a neighboring town on six acres with an invisible fence. The new owner is a runner who wants dogs to go with her. Both dogs will stay together. They have a great temperament for the new family's young children. Two dogs couldn't ask for a better situation.

Children need to demonstrate they are ready for a pet before they get one. They need to show responsibility, and they need to be held accountable for it.

If a child forgets to feed a dog, for example, then he or she should not get dinner either. If the dog doesn't eat, neither should the kid. If the basic needs of a pet aren't being met, like food, water, walking, cleaning a kennel or litter box ... then children should not get priveleges. It won't be long before the kids remember to feed the animals before they sit down to dinner.

As the cool city girl that I was, I used to chuckle at the 4-H farm kids. However, my husband has convinced me that our son will raise animals plural. My husband was responsible for 40 head of cattle all through school. He ran the operation like a business. Before he could legally drive, he knew how to balance a checkbook. Not I!

Responsibility doesn't just happen upon people like bird crap in the ear. It is learned. It takes time to evolve. Children have an inherent sense of selfishness. They are born with the idea that everyone on the planet is there to entertain them. It is quite simply a part of a child's psyche. With the right guidance (cue parents), they will outgrow this.

Pets are certainly a great way for kids to put other beings before themselves. Like everything, it takes time and proper parenting. This is yet another situation where parents need to toe the line. If kids aren't getting it, the parents need to.

This mom is right to stand up for those dogs. The pets shouldn't suffer.

Parents, you are not helping your kids by letting them slide on doggie duties. If you routinely clean up after your pets, or worse, if nobody does, you need to step in.

Give your kids fair warning. Give them a week to shape up. Stop giving them privileges. If they still don't learn, you have got to remove the animal from the house.

If the kids complain and they bark back, simply tell them it's a dog-eat-dog world.

Rattlesnake Attack:
How to Protect and Treat Your Pet
By Eric Kane, DVM - patch.com

Rattlesnakes are a danger to everyone, but should you come across this deadly reptile, here are some sound tips on preventing and treating a bite.

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

Summer is the height of rattlesnake season, and Calabasas residents definitely have our fair share of neighborhood rattlers. Every year, we treat anywhere from several to many rattlesnake bites, usually involving dogs but occasionally cats (among the ‘small’ animal pets).

The severity of each pet’s response to the venom is different and can range from mild to life-threatening. The venom causes internal damage to the blood vessels, leading to loss of blood fluid/proteins and to various clotting problems. The venom can also cause extensive tissue damage and death (necrosis).

Because we cannot initially know how intense your pet’s reaction will be, we recommend in ALL cases to seek immediate veterinary care if your pet is bitten.

As a mostly outdoor hazard, in most cases rattlesnake bites can be avoided. Pet owners are the first line of defense, because we have most of the control over where our pets live and travel. Rattlesnakes can be found almost anywhere, out in the open or hidden from view; from hiking trails, camping spots, and hunting areas, to your garage, front or back yard.

Keep the following in mind:

•Pets that live or go outside unsupervised are at highest risk-look into ‘snake proofing’ your yard (web search recommended) Keep in mind that snake-proofing is not 100% effective all of the time.

•Keep your pets on a leash, even in your yard (front and back) if you want to have the best control over where your pet can go

•If you allow free roaming in your yard, check the yard as thoroughly as possible before letting them out

•Keep your pets out of any areas hidden from view, i.e. tall grasses, bushes, rocks, holes in the ground

•ANY object obstructing your view can be hiding a rattlesnake

Your pet also has some control whether a rattlesnake encounter occurs. Some pets are inherently clever and know to stay away from areas where they sense danger, while others need some guidance. You can enroll your dog in ‘rattlesnake aversion’ classes where they will (hopefully) learn how to recognize the presence of a rattlesnake and avoid any confrontation. You can perform a web search to find the time/location of local classes

A rattlesnake vaccine is also available through many local veterinarians.

An initial series of two vaccine injections, given one month apart, followed by a booster once to twice a year thereafter is recommended by the manufacturer (RedRocksBiologics.com). The company states the vaccine offers protection by neutralizing some of the venom toxin, thus reducing the effects on your pet. While the vaccine likely does provide some protection, the following should be kept in mind:

•Even fully vaccinated, immediate veterinary care is usually required and highly recommended

•The costs of rattlesnake bite treatment may be reduced some, because of the helpful protection from the vaccine but will still be fairly expensive

•Some dogs may have a reaction to the vaccine itself (most common is a lump at the vaccine injection site which usually resolves on its own.)

If preventative/avoidance measures don’t work, look for the following indications that a snake bite likely has occurred (if you did not see it happen):

•rapid onset of swelling (commonly face or paw/limb)

•two (or more) fang mark puncture wounds oozing/bleeding (not always seen)

•pain and change in behavior (guarded, protective of self)

•bruising of affected area

•lethargy, shock, collapse

Again, how severely affected your pet will be depends on many factors, such as time of season, age of rattlesnake, amount of venom, pet size, individual variation, vaccine, etc. Regardless of the situation, you must seek immediate veterinary care if your pet is bitten, and a treatment plan will be discussed.

Find out in advance if your veterinarian carries the medication (anti-venom) needed to treat rattlesnake bites, as this is the most important part of treatment. The sooner you get your pet to a veterinarian, the better chance your pet has to survive.

DO NOT try to simply monitor or treat at home.

Pet Q&A:
Potty Training Adult Dog
Involves Extra Challenges

Q: My dog is no longer a puppy, but he keeps having accidents in the house. I think he does it on purpose, but punishing him doesn't help. I'd like to replace the rugs, but can't until this problem is resolved. Ideas?

– Via email

A: Punishing your pet isn't fair, and it isn't the answer.

You have to go back to square one and teach him properly. Before you start training, though, you must be sure that what you have is really a behavior problem and not a physical problem.

You won't be able to train your pet if he's struggling with an illness. So check with your veterinarian first for a complete checkup.

If you've ruled out medical problems, house-training an adult dog uses the same principles as house-training a puppy, except you have to be even more diligent because you need to do some untraining, too.

And a lot of cleaning: You must thoroughly clean any soiled area with enzymatic cleaner (available through pet supply outlets) to eliminate the smell that invites repeat business.

You'll need to teach your dog what's right before you can correct him for what's wrong. To do this, spend a couple of weeks ensuring that he has nothing but successes by never giving him the opportunity to make a mistake.

Here's how:

Leash him to you in the house so you can monitor his every move during his training period. If he starts to mess, tell him "no," take him outside, and give him a command for going ("go now" or even "let's hurry"). Then praise him for doing right, so he starts to understand what you want.

Put him in a crate whenever he's not on leash with you. It's not unfair during training to leave him in a crate for four or five hours at a stretch – assuming, of course, that he's getting his regular daily exercise.

Take him outside first thing in the morning, as soon as you get home from work and just before you go to bed (when you put him in his crate for the night).

Always remember to give your "go" command, and praise him when he does as you wish. People never seem shy about punishing their dogs, but too often forget to praise them – they take it for granted the dog should do the right thing.

Never, ever forget the praise.

If you've been consistent, your dog likely will get a good idea of what's expected of him within a couple of weeks. If you continue to have problems, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist.

One-on-one assistance can pinpoint the problems in your training regimen and get you both on the right track.

– Gina Spadafori

Did you know?

• The American Kennel Club has added three new breeds for a total of 173 breeds and varieties. Now eligible for championship status are the American English Coonhound, Finnish Lapphund and Cesky Terrier.

Pet Q&A:
Cats Really Don't Like to Share Litter Boxes

Q: I have four cats and four litter boxes. I keep tripping over them, and I'd like to reduce the number of litter boxes by two. Do you think that will be enough?

A: Actually, you not only need four litter boxes, you need to add one. To keep harmony in a multicat household, feline experts say you need one box for each cat, plus one extra. Cats are super-picky about their bathroom accommodations: They demand cleanliness and privacy, and they don't like having to wait in line. Having five boxes that are scooped daily means your cats are much less likely to think about going outside the box, so to speak.

Spread the wealth around the house to ensure privacy. Some cats will lie in wait and pounce on their housemates when they're in the middle of doing their business, but if boxes are placed in different areas on each floor of the house, they can't stake out all of them at once.

Besides, to a cat, a bunch of litter boxes all lined up next to each other just equals one giant litter box, so there's no sense of each cat having his own private potty. Also, some cats like having one box for doing No. 1 and one for doing No. 2. Multiples give them a choice.

Another thing to consider is that your cats may have different preferences for the type of litter and the style of box they like. Having two or three uncovered boxes and a couple of hooded boxes, filled with a couple of different types of litter, gives them options.

House-soiling is the No. 1 reason cats are given up to shelters, but most cats will faithfully use their litter boxes if their people hold up their end of the bargain by keeping the boxes clean and placing them in quiet areas where the cat will feel safe and comfortable while using them.

– Kim Campbell Thornton

You Won't See This Every Day!
Thanks to Kathy in BHC, AZ

Out in Gold Canyon Ranch, AZ.

Yesterday morning - a friend called and informed me that a Mountain Lion had chased a Bobcat up a tall Saguaro and that it was still there !!

So - with Camera and long lens - I dashed out and this was the result. A once in a life time "Kodak Moment" .......What a beautiful creature. He was quite relaxed, at times napping - just waiting for an opportunity to come back down. That Saguaro was 45- 50' in height, I guess Mr. Mountain Lion didn't feel it was worth being "harpooned" by those long needles!